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I had a horizontal furnace installed in the attic of my upper apartment in January of 1984 and it came with a 10-year warranty on the heat exchanger.

Last Dec. 22, I smelled fumes and called the gas company.

The heat shut down in zero-degree weather and they told me the heat exchanger had cracked and it was dangerous.

I immediately called the area dealer and distributor and they told me that because of the Christmas holidays they would not be able to come out until Dec. 26.

I called them back on that date and they said they did not have a replacement heat exchanger in stock and it would take three or four days for them to get one. More than a week later, it still had not come in and now I feel as though I have been getting the runaround.

I had to bring the tenant who lives upstairs into my apartment to keep warm, thinking it would be only a few days. I have no room for my tenant and no privacy.

I am 71 years old with a heart condition, and this situation is making me sick.

I worry about the water freezing in the pipes and other possible damage.

I don't know how much more I can take.

-- M.G., Buffalo
A AS INCONVENIENT it was to have your furnace break down just before the holidays, both the dealer and the distributor seem to have done everything possible to resolve your problem as quickly as they could.

The dealer explains:

"As soon as we found out the heat exchanger was cracked and she needed a new one, we called and ordered it through the distributor. After that, we had to wait until they were able to send it to us, which was on Jan. 5. We did everything we could to expedite the order and installed it the next day. It is now installed and working properly."

The distributor confirmed that for us, adding, "We advised the dealer that we were out of stock for the item requested. There were two alternatives: to pay air freight for next-day delivery or to have it trucked by normal shipping methods. They elected to have it delivered by truck and because of the holiday interruption it did not arrive until Jan. 5. The dealer was notified and picked it up that day. We want you to understand that we did everything we could to help the customer."

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